CATEGORY: Tips

Tip: Verify DNS & Route to Hostname

I came across this handy little tip last week when helping a customer who was experiencing propagation issues. By “came across” I mean our awesome system administrator, Robert, was kind enough to share it with me.

I’m sure some of us have experienced this:

You update your nameservers to point your new domain to your host, but then something’s fishy. Your site is not resolving. Or, it’s resolving for others, but not for you. What it comes down to, is your site is not working right. You’re frustrated and you don’t know whether it’s a problem with your registrar, your host, or your internet service provider (ISP).

If you find yourself in this situation, following these steps will provide enough information to help reveal any possible routing and propagation issues:

Windows

Start -> Run -> Cmd

Then, one at a time, enter these commands and hit Return:

  • nslookup yourdomain.com > c:\netcheck.txt
  • nslookup yourdomain.com 4.2.2.2 >> c:\netcheck.txt
  • pathping yourdomain.com -q 50 -w 500 -4 >> c:\netcheck.txt

This then creates a netcheck.txt file in your C: drive.

Mac

Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal

Then, one at a time, enter these commands and hit Return:

  • cd ~/Desktop/
  • dig yourdomain.com +trace > netcheck.txt
  • dig yourdomain.com @4.2.2.2 >> netcheck.txt
  • traceroute yourdomain.com >> netcheck.txt

This then creates a netcheck.txt file on your Desktop.

Now when you contact the support department of your registrar, host, or ISP you will have an incredibly useful bit of information to send them with the netcheck.txt file. If you’re not sure which support to start with, it never hurts to start with your registrar — they can always point you in the right direction.

Either way, providing the netcheck.txt file will show where the routing is breaking for your hostname and will help support determine what and where the problem is a lot quicker. And quick turnarounds make everyone involved a happy camper. 🙂

Choosing a Good Domain Name

You’ve decided you want to start a website, either for your business or a personal site. Now what do you do? If you guessed that finding a good domain name was at the top of the list, you’d be correct. This process can be somewhat daunting, so we’ve come up with a list of guidelines to help you pick a good domain.

Generic vs. Branding

Generic domain names are usually dictionary words with a broad range of applications, e.g., Books.com, Coffee.com, Golf.com, and so on. Generic domain names are great because they can lead to direct navigation traffic. This means that people in search of these specific things can bypass search engines entirely. These generic names are often very expensive.

But if you’re an everyday Joe looking to build your personal or company brand, choosing a domain name that matches your brand is the way to go. This not only increases your branding, but it will make it easier for your visitors to remember your name. Your brand is also what sets you apart from everybody else, so having a unique domain name that matches your brand will do the same for your website.

Just think if youtube.com went with something like streamingvideo.com. Not very memorable is it?

Hyphens Begone

In researching what others have said on this topic, I came across my new favorite domain name:

http://www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com/

Sure, it’s a little snarky, but it gets the point across. You want to avoid using a hyphen in your domain name if you can. It might be slightly better for SEO, but it doesn’t look very good and it can make your domain name harder to remember. It’s also harder for someone to verbally recommend your website if there are one or more hyphens in the domain name.

Keep It Short and Simple

Get creative! Try using two really good keywords; three or four if you must. Once you start using five or more keywords things can get a little ugly. Again, you want your visitors to remember your domain name, so you want it to be as easy as possible to type.

However, keeping it short doesn’t mean you should resort to acronyms, especially if those letters spell anything funky.

You also want to be conscious of using keywords that share the same first and last letter, like hattricks.com or doggroomers.com. Sometimes you may not have a choice, but be aware that those double letters can be confusing.

Embrace Alternate Extensions

Despite what some domain purists may tell you, alternate extensions are your friend. In a world where most of the good .COM domains are already registered there are plenty of other options available to you.

  • Have your own video production company? Try using companyname.tv.
  • For a personal blog or resume site you might try using .ME or .IM to add a personal touch.
  • Non-profit? You might go with a .ORG domain.
  • If your business is only based in a specific country, why not use that country’s ccTLD (.US, .MX, .CA) to represent your business?

When it comes to alternate extensions you want to try and avoid using what are called domain “hacks”. This is when you use the domain extension to complete a word in your domain name. Sure they look pretty clever, but they don’t do much for you in the “easy to remember” category. Some examples of hacks would be: aweso.me, ilovefrenchfri.es, ridiculo.us, etc. There’s a reason delicious.com switched from del.icio.us, nobody could remember where the heck the dots went!

Be Careful With Trademarks

To quote Elmer Fudd “Be vewy, vewy careful.” Trademarks are no laughing matter and if you register a trademarked name, you can bet that the lawyers will be after you.

Check Your Spelling

It’s always a good idea to double, or even triple check your domain spelling before hitting that purchase button. Sometimes you think you’re getting a steal, but upon a second glance you realize you just registered pronnight.com instead of promnight.com. Doh!

The moral of the story is to get creative with your domain name. You want something that is unique, simple, and memorable. But remember, be careful not to step on any trademarked toes and always check your spelling!

Awesome WordPress Resources to Make Your Website..Awesome!

WordPress is a thing of beauty. An open-source blogging platform that gives you complete freedom to quickly and easily create, update, and manage your website. The only downside to having that much freedom is that it can get a tad overwhelming. Below is a list of WordPress resources we’ve stumbled across in our internet travels, and we hope you find them as useful as we have.

WordPress Codex

WordPress has done a great job of putting together this extensive knowledge base that covers just about everything you can imagine in relation to WordPress.

WPBeginner

Great beginner’s guide to WordPress.

Lorelle on WordPress

Fantastic resource from one of the volunteers that helps out with WordPress support.

The Ultimate Guide To WordPress Hacks And Customizations

Great blog post featuring links to various sources that show you how to customize your site.

Theme Lab

A nice collection of free and custom themes as well as a nice general resource for WordPress.

Free Theme Layouts

A new personal favorite of mine.

WooThemes

Awesome premium themes for people with a little bit more of a budget.

Plugin Directory

If you want to add something to your site, chances are there’s already a plugin for it. Trada also has a good blog post on a few plugins to help get you started.

WordPress Hacks

A site for the slightly more seasoned WordPress user.

We Love WP

A gallery of slick looking WordPress-powered site and a nice source of inspiration.

Page.ly

If you’re self-hosting your WordPress site, Page.ly is an awesome service that takes away all of the hassle.

WordPress Publisher Blog

Helping you get the most out of WordPress.
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The list can really go on and on, but these links should be enough to help get you started. If there’s anything you’d like to add, let us know in the comments!

Name Tip: How to Ensure a Smooth Domain Transfer

Here at Name.com we like to think of domain transfers like square dances — it’s easy to get tripped up, but when you know the steps it’s simple and straightforward.

There are a few tips you can follow before you start your transfer to help ensure that the experience will be as smooth as the dance floor at a senior center…wait…well you get the idea. However, should something go wrong along the way, our support staff is always here to help.

The following should be verified before you initiate your domain transfer:

  • The domain is unlocked.
    • This is a setting you can access from within your account control panel that allows you to transfer out your domain.
  • You have not registered the domain in the past 60 days.
  • You have access to the administrative contact email for the domain.
  • Your current registrar has no other reason to block the domain.
    • Sometimes registrars will deny a transfer if you have updated your contact information within the past 60 days, or if you catch them on a bad day. 😉

We also have some information about these tips on our transfer page.
Currently transfers to Name.com are starting at just $7.75, and in addition to getting great tools and customer support, transferring to Name.com also renews your domain for an additional year, leaving a little extra money in your pocket at the same time.

Hopefully these steps will help you with your next transfer. If your next transfer happens to be to Name.com, we look forward to working with you!

Name Tip: Better SEO with WordPress Permalinks

We’ve seen quite a few blogs recently that are running WordPress and using the default setting for permalinks. It’s unfortunate that this is the default, because it really does nothing for you in the way of SEO. However, there’s a quick fix for this that should help your blog posts get a little more notice.

If you log in to your WordPress blog and scroll down, you will see a “Settings” section on the left hand side. Clicking the arrow will drop down a menu and one of the options will be “Permalinks.” Clicking that will take you to the Permalinks page where you will see the different options you can choose.

The default looks something like http://blog.name.com/?p=167 and that doesn’t really tell readers or search engines anything about your post.

This can be easily changed on the Permalinks page by selecting either the Day or Month options, or even adding your own custom structure using the syntax that WordPress provides. You probably want to stay away from the Numeric option, as that won’t do much for your SEO either.

After saving your changes, your blog URL will look like http://blog.name.com/2010/06/name-tip-better-seo-with-wordpress-permalinks/, which is not only better for SEO, but now your readers have information like subject and date just by looking at your URL.

We hope that helps some of you out there that may not have even known this setting existed. Cheers and happy blogging!

YOURSTORY.TV – How to start your own video blog

So you’re thinking about starting a video blog, huh? Well these days it’s incredibly easy to start posting videos. Where before you needed a camera and editing software before you could even get started, now you can upload video directly from your phone or livestream right from your computer. Since the technical barrier is almost non-existent, where do you begin? An idea is always a great place.

Pick a topic you’re passionate about

What are your hobbies and interests? Maybe you think beer is the greatest thing man ever invented. Or maybe you’re an expert on the benefits of sustainable cooking. Whatever the topic may be, pick something you know and something that you enjoy talking (and learning) about. The more interested you are, the more that will reflect on to your viewers.

Choose your method

How will you record your video? Right now there are a number of inexpensive options available, with Flip Cameras starting at $150 and a number of HD camcorders coming in at $500 or below. But if you have a smartphone that does video or a laptop with a webcam, you can skip the extra purchase and just jump right in. It really doesn’t matter what type of camera you use, so don’t let your budget (or lack thereof) discourage you, the quality of your content and consistency are far more important than video quality.

Upload your videos

Speaking of content, where are you going to post these awesome videos you’re making? Well, before you can post a video to your blog you’ll have to figure out where you’re going to upload them. The three sites we use are Youtube, Vimeo, and Viddler. Youtube is kind of the obvious and most popular choice, but Vimeo and Viddler are pretty darn cool as well. If you want to take the time to upload to all three, that gives more eyeballs a chance of finding your videos. Once you have your video uploaded, you can go ahead and post it to your blog.

Choose your blog platform

The three free blog platforms that we tend to lean towards are WordPress, Posterous, and Tumblr — and really it just comes down to your needs and preferences.

Posterous is the easiest of the three, allowing you to post your video via email by simply pasting the link to the video in the body of your email. All of the embedding is handled by Posterous and they support just about every major video site out there in this regard.

Tumblr is another great microblog option that gives you more freedom with the design of your blog, but requires a little bit more effort when posting your videos. Instead of emailing, you will actually have to log in to your blog and embed the video yourself when you post. They’ve also recently announced a video upload option, which allows you 100MB of video per day and you can skip the whole Youtube step and host it directly on your blog.

WordPress, being a full-fledged blog platform, will allow you complete freedom with the look of your blog. Like Tumblr, you will have to manually embed your videos in your posts, however you don’t have the option to upload directly to your blog. If you’re not a shoot from the hip type of person and like a little more control, this is probably the type of blog for you.

What’s in a name?

Now that you know what you’re going to shoot, how you’re going to shoot it, and where you’re going to upload/post it, it’s time to talk about a domain name. If you’re on a budget, any of the free blog options above will work just fine for you. The only catch is your URL will look something like ilovebeer.posterous.com, which works but doesn’t do much for you in the way of SEO and it just doesn’t look as cool as having your own domain.

If you go the Posterous/Tumblr route, you just have to worry about the cost of the domain, no hosting required. So for as little as $9/year you can have a .COM for your blog. Or, if you want to spend a little bit more and really scream “video!” when people go to your site, you can snag a .TV for $20 for the first year and $35/year to renew. We have some more info here on how to set up a custom domain with Posterous.

If you go for WordPress, you’re going to have to pay for your hosting as well. At Name.com we offer hosting plans for as little as $5.99/month and up to $24.99/month, so depending on what you’re doing you can find a plan to fit your needs. And if you need help setting anything up, our support team is here to help.

Now start posting!

Hopefully that’s enough information to help get you started in the wonderful world of video. We’ve had a lot of fun with our Beer Fridays video blog and we hope you have just as much fun with yours!